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UNITED STATES

School CP - February 1999



Oregon Live, 16 February 1999

Lawmaker advocates return of spanking in schools

By Brad Cain
The Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Saying that educators must be given the ability to deal with severely disruptive students, a lawmaker is proposing to end Oregon's ban on corporal punishment in public schools.

"When children control classrooms, learning stops," Rep. Jeff Kropf, R-Halsey, said Monday of the bill he's introduced to make it legal to spank misbehaving children -- as long as their parents consent.

Groups representing Oregon's teachers and school boards said Monday they want no part of a return to corporal punishment.

"Caning students or whacking them with a ruler is not going to bring them around. There are better ways to deal with problems," said James Sager, head of the Oregon Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.

The 1989 Legislature outlawed corporal punishment after proponents said that having teachers or other school officials resort to physical force to get an unruly student's attention sets a poor example for other children.

John Marshall of the Oregon School Boards Association uses the same argument in opposing Kropf's measure, HB2828.

"I don't think there's any reason to return to the days of the hickory stick," Marshall said.

But Kropf said his bill isn't so much a return to the past as it is a way to deal with the increasing amount of disruption teachers face in today's classrooms.

Under the bill, any spanking would have to be videotaped, and administered in the presence of at least one other witness, who must be a school official.

Kropf, who is a volunteer fire captain, said his experience in teaching fire safety classes to third- and fourth-grade students has convinced him that teachers need additional tools to keep classroom order.

"I observed first hand that it only takes one disruptive child to disrupt the continuity of the teaching process," he said.

The Halsey Republican rejects the argument that corporal punishment somehow promotes violence. Instead, it acts as a deterrent to keep bullies from picking on other children and disrupting classes, he said.

"At some point in time, people who oppose corporal punishment need to ask themselves, 'Is it better to administer a spanking and keep children safe or, God forbid, do we have another Kip Kinkel on our hands?' " he said.

He was referring to the Springfield youth who is awaiting trial on charges that he killed two of his classmates and injured 20 others in a shooting spree last May in the Thurston High School cafeteria.

1999 Oregon Live LLC

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten, or redistributed.



Naples Daily News, Florida, 17 February 1999

Lee to toughen In School Suspension program

By Kara Vick, Staff Writer

The Lee County School District wants to strengthen its In School Suspension program to make sure that it's a true deterrent for unruly students.

In ISS programs, students who are disruptive in class are taken from their traditional classes and put into another class for a day or more with other students being punished.

ISS is supposed to deter those students from behaving badly. In some cases, though, students are allowed to sleep in ISS. In one case, a student in ISS repeatedly sneaked out a classroom window.

School Board Chairman Patricia Riley said the goal is keep disruptive students out of the classroom, and make the punishment for misbehaving a serious deterrent.

Superintendent of Schools Bruce Harter suggested the students who have been sent to ISS and other students be surveyed about the program. "We'll see if they perceive it as a joke," he said.

School Board member Lanny Moore suggested another deterrent - a paddle hanging on the principal's office wall.

"I would really want our principals to know that's available," Moore said. But Moore's offer didn't get support from other board members, even though corporal punishment is legal in Florida schools.

The School Board discussed strengthening and having consistency in the ISS program at a Tuesday meeting on school safety. Harter said he will bring recommendations for changes to the ISS program to the board at a later time.

During the meeting, the board also talked about other safety concerns such as the schools' emergency response plans for serious crimes, sexual harassment, the district's School Resource Officers and how to deal with the Year 2000 problem.

Each school has emergency response plans for situations including bomb threats, kidnappings and shootings, but board members say, those plans are only in the principal's office and are not user friendly. Instead, the board is asking for a plan that is easy to understand and is placed in all the classrooms.

Riley gave other board members examples of emergency plans from other school districts, including one developed by school officials from Jonesboro, Ark. after the area experienced a deadly school shooting last school year.

The board also agreed to improve training and reporting techniques for sexual harassment cases and to update its policies regarding sexual harassment when needed. In the last five years, the district has had seven complaints of sexual harassment from an adult to an adult, with two of those complaints filed this school year.

The board also discussed a prominent safety component on middle and high school campuses - the School Resource Officer. SROs are certified law enforcers who are contracted out to the school to provide security and to form a good relationship between police and teens.

The only recommendation for a change to the SROs that was discussed at Tuesday's meeting was to have SROs and the school district meet regularly about criminal issues in the schools. School Board members also used the safety meeting to briefly discuss whether the district has a plan for after the first of the year, when some say computers will crash causing power and water outages, food shortages and other technical glitches.

Some school districts across the country have even planned their calendars so that there is a week between Jan. 1, 2000 and when school begins after the winter holiday.

"There are so many what ifs out there I just think we should talk about it," Moore said. School officials say they are talking with county leaders to see what preparation can be done before the clock strikes midnight Jan. 1, 2000.




Gannett News Service, 17 February 1999

Teachers make or break the quality of schools. True or false?

By Norman A. Lockman

The answer seems easy. It's obviously true. If you don't have good teachers, you don't have good schools. So let's get tough on teacher quality.

That's where the great debate on improving public schools seems to be stuck for the moment. Unfortunately, it might not solve the underlying problem - lack of disciplinary authority at the classroom level.

Put 25 of the best teachers you can find in a school where about a quarter of the pupils are not interested in being in school. Set up rules so that the teachers are not allowed to deal with classroom disruptions except by yelling or sending offensive pupils to the principal' s office. Let that procedure primarily focus on putting the disruptive pupil back into the classroom as soon as possible.

The 25 star teachers will soon look like chumps. The system is set up to allow disruptive students to set the teachers' agendas. Teachers are handicapped. Their strategies are warped to accommodate disruption because, too often, their superiors won't stand behind them if they crack down.

That's the situation in many U.S. public schools today. There has been a disconnect between maintaining a learning environment in class and the authority to maintain discipline. It has turned schools and teachers into a running joke for all but those kids determined to help themselves.

In Delaware, as in many other places, the most popular solution is creating lots more alternative schools for disruptive kids. It seems simple. Pull the disrupters out of regular classrooms altogether, to give good teachers and good kids a chance.

The problem is that alternative schools can become dumping grounds for kids nobody wants to deal with. Judging from the eight I have visited in Delaware, they range in quality from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The best was an alternative high school run by a community college. It had plenty of everything. It was hard to tell its pupils from the college kids, except that they weren't allowed to roam about the campus. The kids seemed happy to be there. Unfortunately, it was not typical.

Another was in a suburban office complex. There was tension in the air, the sense of a spring too tightly wound. Kids were resentful and complaining about each other, about being there, about the facilities. They wanted to go back to their "old" schools (and most of them do).

There is a fascinating alternative middle school in a church's Sunday school rooms. The pastor is the principal. She believes in spanking and has a private nook set aside for paddling. A parent must agree to limited corporal punishment before a child is admitted. Teachers are authoritarian. Rules are simple, clear and written on the walls. Kids seemed a bit resigned, but they were paying attention. The place was buzzing. Education was happening on several levels.

Then there was the sullen scene in the basement of a city settlement house, where the dominant sense was of incarceration. Rudeness was flying in all directions, from kid to kid, from kid to teacher, from teacher to kid. There was trouble in the air. Teachers were essentially wary guards.

Another was filled with lethargy. Kids and teachers were calm, but there didn't seem to be much going on except order. Unoccupied kids were killing time playing Solitaire on a bank of new computers. Everybody seemed bored, marking time to the bell and real life elsewhere.

These alternative schools - and more are on the way - are filled mostly with poor kids, mostly black. Many are run by non-school contractors. The danger is they will become substitutes for school, places to languish out of sight and out of mind.

They should be stop-gap schools, run only long enough until administrators develop enough back bone to let teachers rule the roost and reign in disrupters' rights in their classrooms. Teachers who can't do that should be pushed out of the system, not into management sinecures.

That is the best alternative.

Norman A. Lockman, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is associate editor of The Wilmington News Journal, P.O. Box 15505, Wilmington, DE 19850

Copyright 1999, Gannett News Service, a division of Gannett Co., Inc.




Albany Democrat-Herald, Oregon, 19 February 1999

No spanking at mid-valley private schools

By Jennifer Moody
Albany Democrat-Herald

Mid-valley private schools are not affected by a bill to bring back spanking in Oregon's public schools. Regardless, administrators at three of them say they wouldn't touch the idea with a 10-foot paddle.

Rep. Jeff Kropf, R-Halsey, has introduced a bill that would allow corporal punishment in public schools, under certain guidelines and with prior parent permission. The bill has not yet had a hearing.


principal with old paddleThe paddle in Principal Rod Gerig's office at Fairview Christian School is no longer used.
MARK YLEN/Democrat-Herald

At Fairview Christian School east of Albany, Principal Rod Gerig has an old paddle he found in a back cupboard when he took over four years ago. The paddle is about a foot and a half long, three-quarters of an inch thick, and made of solid oak with a grooved waffle-iron pattern on one side.

Years ago, Gerig said, the paddle was indeed used for troublemakers at the school. Now, however, it's just a tangible reminder of times past.

"I personally believe that corporal punishment is valid, but as policy at Fairview Christian, we do not do that," he said. "The reason being, I believe corporal punishment should be done in the home by the parents or at school by the parents. We have other ways of dealing with students."

Fairview Christian uses a merit and demerit system to discipline its students. Merits are handed out to students for things such as good behavior, making good grades on tests and performing acts of kindness. Once or twice a month, younger children can purchase treats from the merit store, while older students are rewarded with ski trips or other activities.

If a student does something that warrants a punishment other than demerits, Gerig said, the school will send home notification of the misbehavior. If parents feel a spanking is necessary, they're the ones who give it, he said. "It's the parent's responsibility, not the school's."

Stan Baker, superintendent of Santiam Christian Schools in Adair, said he feels the same way.

Occasionally, he said, parents have come to the school to give a spanking to children if they feel an infraction warrants it. The school's procedure is to use timeouts or work detail for discipline.

"We see our mission as assisting parents, not taking their place," he said.

School officials are leery of leaving themselves open to lawsuit, Baker said.

"Basically we as a policy have just stayed away from that, just because it's such a controversial kind of thing," he said. "There just seem to be too many risks. It's not that we disagree with it, it's that in our current litigious society ... there's too many areas for misperception."

At St. Mary's School in Albany, administrators operate under the rule of the Archdiocese of Portland. Its rules state, "Corporal punishment ... should not be used as a means of student discipline." Principal Sharon Tebb said she agrees with the rule.

"I have worked in both the public and private sector and have never used it," she said. "Personally, I would be totally opposed. Punishment is not a means of controlling behavior."

Gerig noted that private schools such as Fairview Christian usually are less likely to need spanking as a discipline tool anyway. For the most part, he said, parents who pay for private tuition have more of a vested interest in making sure their children don't misbehave. That in turn leads to a different atmosphere at a private school.

For instance, he said, "What we give demerits for, the public schools would laugh at. If you come to school without a belt on, you get a demerit. That's part of teaching students responsibility and taking responsibility for their actions."



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